Before trips to Disney World and Six Flags, the Chattooga County Fair was an annual highlight for many.  Until the mid-1930s, the fair was held in downtown Summerville.

first fair
The first Chattooga County Fair, November 15, 1904.  The Arrington Drug Company building (later Jackson Drug Company) is in the background.  The future site of the current courthouse is to the left, out of frame.

In the 1970s, John D. Taylor, Jr. published a short memoir entitled Leaves In the Wind.  The following quotes are from his booklet:

"In the early fall of each year, the county fair was held in the streets and, with the exceptions of Christmas and the Fourth of July, Fair Week was the high spot of the year.  People looked forward to it all the year, coming from everywhere to join the festivities.  The trains were loaded as were the wagons, buggies, and surries.  Many rode horses and mules.  Many walked.  It was a time of good fellowship and many families seized the occasion to have family reunions."

downtown street

Same view as above, but from further south, probably around the intersection of Commerce Street and Georgia Avenue.  A power pole can be seen in front of the Arrington Building which means this photograph was taken after 1904.

"A carnival atmosphere was everywhere....  People on the crowded sidewalks chatted happily.  Hawkers did a big business with balloons, whistles, hats, pennants, and the like.  The entire length of (Commerce) Street was roped off for the races and other contests. There were the usual foot races, relays, and broad jumps, but the two most exciting contests were the climbing - or trying to climb - the greased pole to reach the top for the money prize, and the race for the greased pig.  Such fun and excitement!  Such a greasy mess for each child taking part!"


"Fair exhibits were displayed in the court house and on the lawn. Many of the shade trees had stalks of corn and cotton tied to their trunks.  All of these exhibits were wonderful and there were so many that often it was necessary to place the overflow in the hallways of the building."

Some of the catagories for "special premiums" (prizes) were:

Biggest Irish potato.
Best general display canned fruits, vegetables, preserves, jellies....
Best display flowers and ferns.
Best pound of butter.
Prettiest hand made baby cap.
Ladies driving contest.
Best draft horse in harness.
Best mule over four years old.
Best bushel field peas.
Best display hay.
Best trio Rhode Island Reds.

Commerce Street

Commerce Street looking south.  The building on the left sits on the northeast intersection of Commerce and Washington, site of a vacant lot next to the defunct Richie's.  I'm guessing by the lone flivver in the center and the additional power poles that this photo was made sometime in the nineteen-teens.  (Photo scanned from the original print.)

Hollis & Hinton

The building housed Hollis & Hinton, "dealers in staple and fancy dry goods, millinery and fancy goods, dress goods, notions, boots and shoes, groceries, hardware, etc., etc."  This building later housed Taylor Mercantile Company.  After the Depression, ownership passed to several others. Jordan's Department Store was located in this building from the late 1940’s until around 1956 when the store moved a half block north.  Some of you may remember the store with its diagonal entry facing the courthouse.  

Commerce Street

Looking north toward the intersection of Commerce and Washington Streets.  The Arrington / Jackson Drug Store building is on the left. Corn grows on the location of the current Pop's Place restaurant.  (Photo scanned from the original print.)


A view of downtown Summerville looking northeast, perhaps taken near Miss Beulah Shropshire's house.  The west side of the courthouse is seen center left.  Taylor's Ridge is in the background.


Downtown in the 1920s.  The power poles have been moved from the sidewalks to the center of Commerce Street.  The top of the courthouse peers above the trees near center left.  The ever-present Arrington / Jackson Drug Company building is in the background.

kids on bikes

Based on the cars in the background, this photo looks like it was taken in the 1930s.  Someone has painted the power poles perhaps to make them more visible to drivers.

The photos on this page are courtesy of Gene McGinnis.

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Copyright 2010 Greg W. McCollum.  All rights reserved.